Hundreds of turtles found crammed in one house

Hundreds of turtles found crammed in one house »Play Video
HERMISTON, Ore. -- A bizarre health hazard was recently uncovered at a house near the Washington-Oregon state line.

More than 700 turtles were found living in the same home. And that number just may end up as an unusual record.

An army of red-eared sliders - 728 of them, to be exact - were taken from the Hermiston home after police received a tip that a woman was hawking them at a festival.

Inside the woman's home investigators found hundreds of turtles jammed in crates, stacked on top of each other.

"When you find this many, it's unusual and it has you open your eyes, too, that little problems can be bigger in some areas," said Kevin Blakely with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The turtles are illegal in Oregon and Washington mainly because they carry salmonella even when they're small. One runs a risk of being infected simply by holding one of the turtles.

"They kind of lose their appeal as cute cuddly critters in the pet industry when kids get them after a couple years, and they tend to get released into the wild or traded around, not cared for," Blakely said.

Police are now trying to track down anyone who bought the turtles for their safety and the safety of the environment. If released, wildlife officials fear the turtles will grow and begin taking over native species' habitats.